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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

30 Ideas for Glamping Your Camping

30 Ways to Glamp Your Camping from In Our Pond

It's camping season!  We haven't been out yet this year, but I'm very excited to get the kids into the woods.  For the first time since we've had kids, I'm not feeling totally overwhelmed by bringing them camping.  Yay!

I grew up camping with my family, and we still camp with my family (after 11 years of marriage).  One of my goals for the next few years is to get us camping on our own.  Like grown-ups (wink).  As I do with almost every thought, idea, or project, I went to Pinterest to gather ideas.  Here's what I found:

Saturday, May 27, 2017

f is for frogs (year 3, week 31)

f is for frogs!  Homeschool Theme Unit  #montessori
Wikimedia Commons

This was our last official week of Mommy School, but we didn't actually do anything related to our theme.  So, here's what we did and a bunch of ideas for a frog-themed homeschool week.

f is for frogs!  Homeschool Theme Unit  #montessoriWhen we arrived home, our yard was filled with dandelion poofs.  I sent Tadpole out in the yard with a pair of children's (blunt) scissors to cut their heads off.  He happily attacked them, sometimes recklessly and sometimes with more concentration.  When he got tried of that game, he

I spent most of the week blogging and putting things back together.  The kids spent it playing and napping.  They're so excited to be home where they can go outside whenever they'd like and can yell and stomp in the house if they want (not in a hotel anymore).  We also reflected on our trip and talked about what we wanted to learn more about from the things we saw.

f is for frogs!  Homeschool Theme Unit  #montessoriBlog Posts About Frogs
- Lily Pad Skip Counting Gross Motor Skills Activity
- e is for eggs (year 2)
- tree frogs (summer theme)

metamorphosis games (frog and butterfly)
counting frogs
what hatches from an egg
tadpole to frog science notebook pages
butterfly lapbook
parts of a frog 3-part cards
frog toob printables
fly counting cards
life cycle of a frog 3-part cards
hungry caterpillar preschool pack

f is for frogs!  Homeschool Theme Unit  #montessori
Wikimedia Commons
croaking frog
frog life cycle video
feed the frog with tweezers
butterfly sensory bin
no sew caterpillar that turns into a butterfly

- life cycle of a frog
- all about amphibians

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Family Friendly Attractions- Oregon Coast

Family Friendly Attractions on the Oregon Coast  #roadtrip #kids #vacation

We're home from our three night, four day vacation on the Oregon Coast.  While we did spend a lot of time exploring the beach near our hotel, we also visited four popular attractions in the Portland area.  Every attraction has been given a family-friendliness rating of 1 to 5 🌟 to help you decide the best fit for your family.  This is my honest and unbiased opinion of these places, and I have received nothing for these reviews.  I hope this list encourages you to make some fun family memories this summer.

Two of our family-friendly attractions were completely free!  On the way to the beach, we took a potty stop at MULTNOMAH FALLS.  There is a nice, well-maintained hiking trail up to the falls, a gift shop with bathrooms, and lots of parking.  It's always cooler near the falls than in the parking lot so it's a refreshing place to visit on a summer day.  You can spend ten minutes at the falls or an hour with a picnic and a hike.  Highly recommended for family-friendliness.  🌟🌟🌟🌟


Family-Friendly Attractions on the Oregon Coast   #road trips  #kids  #family  #vacation  #oregon

On the way home, we stopped at the BONNEVILLE FISH HATCHERY to stretch our legs.  The kids insisted on calling it a "fish factory," which I love.  I don't think it quite met their expectations.  They were also hoping to see more aspects of a fish life cycle.  We did get to see a huge sturgeon in a pond, and some big brooding trout.  The waking paths were lovely and well-maintained.  The hatchery was free, but it was also low on amenities.  Very family-friendly but sort of non-climatic.  🌟🌟🌟🌟

Family-Friendly Attractions on the Oregon Coast   #road trips  #kids  #family  #vacation  #oregon


Family-Friendly Attractions on the Oregon Coast   #road trips  #kids  #family  #vacation  #oregon
photo credit- Emily Wilson

One day, we drove down the coast to visit the SEA LION CAVES, which is the world's largest sea cave and the brooding grounds of sea lions.  The bathrooms are free, but everything else is quite dear.  You pay to take an elevator down into the cave, where you encounter sea lions in their natural habitation.  The cave also had a few educational exhibits and a skeleton of a sea lion.  This attraction is not handicap accessible, and didn't offer very much for the amount of money that it cost.  🌟🌟🌟


Family-Friendly Attractions on the Oregon Coast   #road trips  #kids  #family  #vacation  #oregon

Our very favorite attraction was the OREGON COAST AQUARIUM.  It was costly, but worth the extra money.  We spent about two hours there, but a family with older, interested kids could spend a lot longer.  They have a good variety of things that are found on the Oregon coast and beyond.  They have seals, sea lions, and otters in the mammal category, invertebrates like jellyfish and an octopus, sharks, and lots of fish.

Family-Friendly Attractions on the Oregon Coast   #road trips  #kids  #family  #vacation  #oregon

I love this picture because all the kids are doing similar things with their hands and all seem so engaged.  We saw sea lions sunbathing and seals swimming.  We missed the feed time, but I'm sure they would have enjoyed that as well.  We loved how this exhibit could be viewed from so many different sides and levels.

Family-Friendly Attractions on the Oregon Coast   #road trips  #kids  #family  #vacation  #oregon
photo credit- Emily Wilson
I was really surprised how much my kids loved the touch tank (we did it twice).  None of them hesitated at all to gently poke the creatures- skates, starfish, urchins, sea cucumbers, nudibranch, shrimp, and anemone.  We could have spent a lot of time here, too, if the kids had been better rested.

Family-Friendly Attractions on the Oregon Coast   #road trips  #kids  #family  #vacation  #oregon

One of the best known features of the aquarium is the tunnel.  There are 4 different types of tanks, which ends with the sharks.  The kids were so engaged in this exhibit, watching the fish from the sides, above and below.

Family-Friendly Attractions on the Oregon Coast   #road trips  #kids  #family  #vacation  #oregon

The kids spent a lot of time laying on their bellies and staring down at the fish.  It was such an interesting experience- a peek into the aquatic world from their level.  At one point, Tadpole moved his arms and legs like his was swimming and scooted across the window.  I think this area would have been a lot less interesting if it had been crowded with people.  We went on a Friday, and had lots of room for laying on the floor.

Family-Friendly Attractions on the Oregon Coast   #road trips  #kids  #family  #vacation  #oregon

There were many more thing that we saw and experienced that I'm not going to talk about today.  The aquarium is opening a new exhibit soon (Memorial Day weekend 2017), so we'll have to go back again.  Even without the new tanks, I know that we'll return because the aquarium was so nice and is the sort of place with will grow with the kids.  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

*A lot of it is outdoors, so be prepared if the weather is rainy*


So, that's it for my reviews.  It look me most of the day, so I hope you find it helpful.

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Family-Friendly Attractions on the Oregon Coast  #roadtrips  #kids  #vacation  #oregon

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

DIY Travel Sensory Toys

DIY Sensory Toys  #travel  #autism  #sensory  #kids  #DIY
Wikimedia Commons

It's travel season, which means lots of time stuck in an plane, train, or automobile.  When you have sensory-sensitive kids, travel time can be challenging.  Here are a bunch of DIY take-them-with-you sensory toy ideas for your vacation.

DIY Sensory Toys  #travel  #autism  #sensory  #kids  #DIY  #howisafari  #sensorybottle

Sensory bottles are great for sensory-seekers, because it provides visual (watching the rice), auditory (gentle shaking), and proprioception (weight of bottle) stimulation.  It's good for sensory-avoiders by providing something calming to focus on in times of over-stimulation.  The i-spy activity is also educational, as kids seek out letters, numbers, explore scientific principles (like oil and water), and practice patience.  This bottle was made with Safari Ltd's Good Luck Mini Ocean Pack, which we received as part of the company's #HowiSafari Campaign.  The kids really love the feel of the minis, and were disappointed that I didn't let them play with the toys in that way (we have other good luck minis for squishing).  However, they loved the sensory bottle, and it was perfect for the road trip.  We saw whales, sharks, and starfish on our beach vacation, which made the sensory bottle a good learning tool and souvenir of the trip.  Of course, I super-glued the lid on before giving it to them.

DIY Sensory Toys  #travel  #autism  #sensory  #kids  #DIY

For this activity, I cut a hole in a small round container with a lid.  The kids can poke the porcupine balls into the hole and run the balls through their fingers.  I even saved some extras for myself to fidget with in the car.

DIY Sensory Toys  #travel  #autism  #sensory  #kids  #DIY

These poking tubes come from a mom, Jessica LaPorte, whose daughter loves to poke her finger in small places.  She and I brainstormed on Facebook to make something that her daughter could have with her at all times.  Jessica bought some 1/2 inch PVC pipes at the hardware store, drilled small holes in the walls for the key rings, and attached them to a breakaway landyard.  To make the tubes fun, Jessica wrapped them in washi tape that she had around the house.  Her daughter's favorite tube is the one with glitter tape on it because it has an interesting texture.  Other textures could be make with rough stick-on velcro, felt (which also comes with a sticker back), sandpaper, or fabric.  I love what Jessica did, and I especially love how she created something that home to help regulate her child anywhere they go.

DIY Sensory Toys  #travel  #autism  #sensory  #kids  #DIY

I ran across this idea on the the internet and knew that I had to make them for myself.  I really needed something to do with my hands while I was in the car or waiting somewhere.  The Fiddle Key Chain is simply five metal key rings with pony beads on them, all connected together.  My 5 year old decided that she loved them and needed one in pink, so I made one and attached it to her water bottle.  I'm hoping that by hanging it off the water bottle, it will make it harder to lose and encourage her to drink more.  I make a similar ones for my oral-seeking boy, with food-safe plastic tubing instead of beads.  They're neat as a sensory toy, but I also like them as a water bottle ID tag, especially in places where lots of people will have bottles lying around.  To save my fingernails while working with all those key rings, I used a staple remover.  It made the whole project a lot less stressful and a lot faster.

DIY Sensory Toys  #travel  #autism  #sensory  #kids  #DIY

I've been wanting to make this activity for a long time.  It looks so simple to make but the weight of it made it very challenging.  I used various buckles and fasteners from my stash and a bunch of different sized ribbons.  I put a piece of plastic canvas in between the layers of felt to give the activity board some structure.  The kids enjoyed this one on our recent road trip as well.

DIY Sensory Toys  #travel  #autism  #sensory  #kids  #DIY

My Specifically Sensory blog post from last year's road trip is also helpful this year.  We brought a lot of the same things with us this year too.

DIY Ideas from Around the Web

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Antarctica 3-part Cards

Antarctica Matching Cards for Safari Toob  #howisafari  #Montessori  #continent  #3partcards
Antarctica Matching Cards for Safari Toob  #howisafari  #Montessori  #continent  #3partcards

Safari Ltd has released the Antarctic Animals toob this year.  This toob has a lot more variety than the penguins toob and includes birds, pinnipeds, and whales.  The animals will be great for sorting between land, sky, and water, sorting by type, and practicing reading (traditional 3-part cards use).  As with every toob, the figurines make great sensory bin toys and can be played with in wet, dry, or messy materials.

Free Printable- Antarctica 3-Part Cards
Antarctica Matching Cards for Safari Toob  #howisafari  #Montessori  #continent  #3partcards
Wikimedia Commons

Other Antarctica Printables:
- penguin measuring activity
- transportation on Antarctica
- Antarctic food chain

If you loved this printable, check out all my others by clicking on the picture below!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

j is for jumping spiders (year 3, week 30)

J is for Jumping Spider Homeschool Unit from In Our Pond
Wikimedia Commons
This was a short, strange week, because of our beach vacation, but we were able to squeeze in a bit of #howisafari spider fun.  The Hidden Kingdom Black Widow Spider was so detailed that we were able to use it to learn the parts of the spider.  The kids loved pointing out the spinnerets and counting the legs.  We watched a very interesting video about spiders called "Science Time" (linked below).  We hardly touched on spiders at all, so I'm sure we'll have to come back to them soon.

J is for Jumping Spider Homeschool Unit from In Our Pond
The week began with Mother's Day.  Dragonfly (age 5) painted this flower pot for Grandma.  She picked the colors and mixed the blue with white to get a lighter shade.  Then, we added the kids thumbprints to the pot to make flowers.  Each kid had their own color.  I painted the grass and stems on.  We got to hand-deliver this present on our road trip.

J is for Jumping Spider Homeschool Unit from In Our Pond
I had brought the carseats into the house as part of our pre-trip preparations.  The kids loved the novelty of having the seats outside of the car.  They spent a lot of the week sitting in them and pretending to be on the road trip.  Skimmer has been struggling with learning to buckle his seat, but he learned how this week (Montessori practical skills!).  They played for hours together while sitting in their seats.

J is for Jumping Spider Homeschool Unit from In Our Pond
- spider 10-frames
- Montessori 3-part cards
- spider chart
- parts of a spider worksheet
- spider notebook
- spider book

- spider sensory bin
- wrapping bugs in spider webs
- spider web fine motor skills activity
- building spider webs
- spider play dough
- giant spider web

- Science Time for Kids: Spiders

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Moana Alphabet Flashcards

FREE Moana Alphabet Flash Cards
We're going on a Moana themed road trip!  My kids love the movie right now, and we play it quite frequently.  They are also all in various levels of pre-reading.  I like to have not only fun things for the kids to do on the road but also things that are educational.  I'd like to think that these Moana themed alphabet cards are both.  They can be used for reading practice, letter identification, memory match, or spelling.  I'm going to laminate them and put them on a key ring for the kids to flip through while we drive.  I tried to make the cards easy for kids and parents to identify the items.  I've kept them hidden from the kids, and I'm excited to see their reaction to them.

FREE Moana Alphabet Flash Cards
FREE Moana Alphabet Flash Cards

If you loved this printable, check out all my others by clicking on the picture below!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

i is for insects (year 3, week 29)

i is for insects homeschool unit from In Our Pond
We took a vote and the insect that the kids wanted to focus on this week was bees!  I love bees and they inspire me to do lots of free printables.  All week, I've been posting new themed ones.  You can find them here:

Monday- Teen Numbers Board
Tuesday- Travel Time Tuesday
Wednesday- Life Cycle Cards
Thursday- Hive Moveable Alphabet
Friday- Counting and Addition Cards

i is for insects homeschool unit from In Our PondIt was beautiful today, so we went to the park.  It was our first visit of the year, and it was fun to watch how they've grown over the summer.  Skimmer (age 4.5) climbed all the way to the top of the play structure without help.  Then, he got himself back down without getting hurt, an even greater feat.  He also did about half of the monkey bars (with a spotter).

i is for insects homeschool unit from In Our Pond
Tadpole did very well at the playground as well.  He kept wanting to be barefoot and coming to me to get his shoes off.  Then, he'd play awhile before returning for his shoes.  I think we'll get a lot braver and more independent over this year.

i is for insects homeschool unit from In Our Pond
Dragonfly seemed to look at the playground in a new way.  She loves to swing from her hands, so she spent a lot of time running around and swinging from different things.  She wants to go back to the playground every day.

We read about honeybees today and learned about pollination.  We used bananas to pretend to be bees, dipping them in honey to simulate the sticky hairs bees have on their bodies.  Then, we stuck our banana-bees into different toppings, going from "flower to flower" and pretending to collect pollen.  After everyone had had a turn, we noticed that the bowls of toppings had gotten mixed.  We talked about how the bees drop a little bit of pollen as they go from flower to flower and pollinate them.  When we were all done with our snack, the table was covered in toppings, which we said was like the pollen that bees drop as they fly back to their hive.

AWANA day!  It was our last one of the year!

We read another bee book and did our bee counters (printable at the top of this post).  We used buttons as counters.  I was impressed how quickly Dragonfly did her math facts.  She's come a long way this year.

i is for insects homeschool unit from In Our Pond

The kids played outside a lot this week.  I love this picture of the kids that my husband took.  This is an old mole hole that the kids have turned into a digging pit slash bug investigation area.  It's one of their favorite places to play.

i is for insects homeschool unit from In Our Pond

i is for insects homeschool unit from In Our Pond
Bee Blog Posts
- i is for insects (year 2)
- g is for grasshopper (year 1)
i is for insects homeschool unit from In Our Pond- Here is the Beehive: Counting by 10s
- hexagon worksheet
- Bees like Bs letter ID game
- pollen transfer folder game

- types of bees
- parts of a bee 3-part cards
- bee species 3-part cards
- bee life cycle
- felt bee pattern
- bumblebee addition
- bee life cycle poster
- hive addition

- pollen transfer activity
- bee sensory bin
- bee button counters
- parts of a bee

- city of bees
- what happens when bees die